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I'm not looking for agreement - just proof!  Not one of the Ivory-billed 
observers reported seeing the large, pale bill or the prominent white eye. 
That's a real problem, David.  I also question the 'experience' of the 
observers, as none of them considers themselves a 'birderwatcher'.

As birdwatchers, we all know how easy it is to make identification errors 
(look no further than Common Nighthawks, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and within 
days, Eastern Wood-Pewee and Yellow-billed Cuckoo!).  There's also a 
tendency to believe in the observation and identification so much that 
there's an 'expectation' to see 'the rarity', and not completely be open to 
other possibilities or likelihoods (remember the Royal Tern at Four Rivers 
that was a Caspian Tern?).

I found the Sibley article submitted to this list earlier today to be very 
well-reasoned and compelling.  Kaufman's comparison of the behavior of other 
Campephilus woodpeckers was enlightening.  I'm not seeing professional 
jealously or personal attacks - I'm seeing a reality check.

Chris Hobbs
[log in to unmask]





----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Becher" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:06 PM
Subject: Re: Common Nighthawks


Sorry Chris, but I cannot agree.  Not all sight records are created equal. 
In the first place the Ivory-billed sighting was more than one observer on 
more than one occasion and was documented.  Also the observers were 
experienced and specifically looking for the species in question.  There is 
simply only one that produced pictures.  There may be some question about 
the quality of the pictures supporting the documentation, but that is 
another matter.  The pictures are not the only documentation there are also 
the field notes of the observers and the recordings of the birds hammering.

The fact is that an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas is not really any 
more unlikely than Common Nighthawk in Saint Louis in March.  There have 
been unconfirmed reports of Ivory-billed for years most of them undoubtedly 
in error, but not necessarily all.

The thing that concerns me is not that people are unconvinced.  I am not 
completely convinced myself.  It is tactics and reasons that some of them 
are using for questioning the sighting.  They are basically making personal 
attacks rather than doing good science.

As far as the Nighthawk sightings are concerned, they could be correct as 
well.  But until someone produces documentation, an out of range or season 
bird cannot be accepted.

David Becher
Saint Louis
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Chris Hobbs<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
  To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
  Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 9:53 PM
  Subject: Re: Common Nighthawks


  In reading each of David's posts regarding Common Nighthawks and
  Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, I gather sight observations of Common Nighthawk
  must be documented to settle the question, but sight observations of 
extinct
  birds (Ivory-billed Woodpecker) should be accepted at face value?  The
  prudent thing is to consider the possibility of human error or another 
more
  common bird (or more accurately, the combination of both).  The emotional
  attachment of 'believing' in Ivory-billed Woodpeckers is apparently much
  stronger than the emotional detachment of science.  I think David's head 
got
  it right in the comments about nighthawk identification below, but his 
heart
  was speaking about Ivory-bills.  So called 'professional jealously' 
doesn't
  enter into the scientific discussion at all, but the desire to believe the
  discussion is emotional does reveal something about those who 'must
  believe'.

  Chris Hobbs
  [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: "David Becher" <[log in to unmask]
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